August 8, 2022

CDC program expands free COVID-19 testing to assisted living

McKnight Senior Living

Assisted living communities now have access to free COVID-19 testing through a federal program that previously targeted schools, shelters and correctional facilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Operation Expanded Testing programprovides no-cost polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, COVID-19 tests — including specimen collection supplies, shipping materials, laboratory testing and results reporting — to providers for use with staff members and residents. 

Providers, who must use staff members to conduct testing, can receive up to a four-week supply at a time, and there is no cap on the number of tests that may be requested, according to the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living.

The CDC OpET program, which runs through Dec. 31, was designed to increase access to testing nationwide, especially for communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The $650 million program was created in May 2021 by the Department of Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Department of Defense, to expand national COVID-19 testing capacity.

OpET coordinates with contractor-operator hubs to provide pooled PCR tests. The pooled testing reduces the amount of time required to test large numbers of specimens, allowing for rapid identification of COVID-19 spread in communities, usually within 24 to 48 hours, according to officials. 

More information on how to enroll an assisted living community into the OpET program is available on the CDC’s website.

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